The link between Rajasthan in Lahli and India at Perth

Bowled out for 89, and they come back to win by 64 runs – within three days.

No, it is not the Aussies beating India again in the Third Test; it’s Rajasthan defeating Haryana in the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy, taking Rajasthan, the defending champions, into the final – against, more than likely, Tamil Nadu, who have Mumbai on the mat, with a first innings lead, and 202, and a further 220 runs added on in the second innings, with six wickets in hand and a day to go.

Rajasthan, after a mediocre main part of the season, is back in the final as defending champions, a very rare occurrence in this age of instant change and sudden decline – a team of great guts; a team of youth and experience. Read about Rajasthan in Aakash Chopra’s gut-wrenching book, ‘Out of the Blue’, the inside story of last season’s triumph… discover how a team can be properly managed and coached, learn about the individual triumphs and tragedies of Ranji Trophy players, what victory and defeat in the great game is really all about, stripped of the ads and the advantages, stripped of the big money and the big crowds – the Ranji Trophy, from where every great player, from Merchant to Mankad to Sunil to Sachin made their games and their names, know what it means for a young man to travel by second-class unreserved train, or crowded bus, or creaky cycle, to reach a ground or a match or a trial; to live in a shack and cook for yourself, to have enough money to buy basic equipment – discover the tactics and the tempers of a match which seems meaningless, except for the 22 ‘flannelled fools’ who are playing it.

The Indian team need to remember their Ranji roots. Getty Images

The Indian team need to remember their Ranji roots. Getty Images

‘Out of the Blue’ and Rajasthan is back in the final again. Another story to be told, another book to be written...

And, oh yes, in a few another match is starting, and unless we remember the link between the Ranji Trophy and the match about to start, we have lost the way – and almost already have – because Test matches are won by players who remember those bus and train rides, those lonely shacks and rooms, those empty stadiums and empty pockets, those tactics and tempers, those seemingly meaningless matches which in fact mean so much.

Only when players remember the Ranji Trophy and all is stands for, will we return to our winning ways in Test matches.

It has been said over and over, but it must be said again – we lost our way after winning the World Cup by going immediately into the IPL season. We lost our way, we lost our momentum, we lost our focus, we lost our team – it is as simple as that. Since the World Cup triumph, Dhoni has lost six Tests as a captain, more than in the rest of his career as captain and his average for 2011 in Tests was his second lowest, only marginally better than his record in his second season; six Test losses in a row overseas, the first time since ’67 – and, this is after being the number one Test team in the world...

A solution? Well, one lovely one would be the win the Third Test; another, a long-term one; a radical one, but here it goes – any player on the India contract must play at least four Ranji Trophy matches a season, and no IPL. Can it be done? If there is a will, it can be done.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan is back in the Ranji final...

And our Test team stands, quivering, on the brink...

Updated Date: Feb 03, 2012 14:37 PM

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